By QUINT QUALLS
The Board of Mayor and Alderman voted unanimously on Monday to defer a resolution to deed property to the Spring Hill Little League for new ball fields.
The city has been considering transferring the deed for a 20-acre property off of Derryberry Lane to Spring Hill Little League after the organization came before the Board of Mayor and Alderman earlier this summer to reveal that it would soon lose four of its six fields currently in the path of the state’s impending extension of Saturn Parkway to Beechcroft Road.
City leaders continued to express wariness at Monday’s meeting concerning the idea of deeding property over to the little league organization.
At present, most Board members have voiced opposition to any deeding scenario that would result in the property being put up as collateral, primarily because of the possibility that the league would default on its loans, causing the 20 acres off of Derryberry to end up under ownership of a financial institution.
“After we debated this quite lengthily the other night, I don’t see any other thing for me in the deed,” said Mayor Rick Graham. “But I just want to make sure the little league understands that I cannot do anything that would force this deed to go to a bank, which means they have to come back to us for any loans. And I probably won’t support that, because if we do approve loan in the future, if they default the land will go back to the bank or the loan agency. But the lease won’t work because they can’t get grants.”
“I know we’ve gotten emails from citizens about the other leagues and all, but this is a little different to me because we eliminated all their fields. This is not turning away a few kids because of growth and not having enough fields. We basically are building roads right over their fields. So it’s a little different for me in that regard. I find it ironic our two biggest projects are roads and parks, and number one is taking out number two in this case.”
Alderman Chad Whittenburg said he wants to see Spring Hill Little League’s project to build new fields move forward. He said he spoke to Tom Mencer, little league president, and let him know what it will take for him to support deeding the land.
“It’s basically a couple different things, one of which he has with him tonight,” Whittenburg said. “If the chair will allow, he is not going to speak, but he does have a drawing. I don’t expect Spring Hill Little League to spend money to get engineering drawings yet, but some basic concepts, basic planning, strategic planning.”
“You know, ‘I’ve met with a bank already, I’ve started to do some due diligence there.’ Some strategic planning, like I said, and maybe a layout of what grants they’re applying for, stipulations of those grants, and obviously we haven’t seen any of that. So I’ve shared that, what I would like, just some rudimentary stuff. This drawing for me is good enough for me to look at what they’re going to do.”
Alderman Amy Wurth pointed some of the league’s financials that Alderman Jonathan Duda provided in an Aug. 9 email. She said the league’s filings for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 indicated approximately $100,000 in annual total revenue with similar total expenses, approximately $25,000 of net assets, of which $22,000 was cash.
“That’s the only thing I’ve really seen and that’s not a lot,” she said. Especially talking about the amount of acres we’re looking at here along with what they need.”
Wurth said she would not support deeding the land over to the league, but she said she would support finding a way for the city to make it happen and seeing how it can work it into the budget. City Administrator followed her comments by saying that a deferral would allow city staff 30 days to work on what an alternative resolution with an accompanying budget for the city to do the project – offering to bring an “either-or type vote” before the Board next month.
Whittenburg motioned for a deferral of the Spring Hill Little League resolution. Alderman Kayce Williams said she would support such a motion to defer to get a “best-of-our-ability plan” before the Board next month.
The motion to defer was approved unanimously.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.